Center for Area and Cultural Studies

Area and cultural studies is located at the crossroads of various disciplines, in particular sociology, anthropology, political science, history and economics.

Centre for Area and Cultural Studies (CACS)

Encompasing research and teaching activities, the CACS serves to anchor EPFL to the world of social and cultural realities. The Centre’s main objective is to prepare students for professional opportunities in emerging markets, particularly in Asia, by providing them with the theoretical and methodological tools to better understand non-Western societies and cultures.

The CACS employs a team of multidisciplinary reseachers and lecturers, working in the fields of anthropology, sociology, political science and economics. The team members specialize in India and China, while also linking their thoughts and research to the broader regional context. CACS’ institutional collaborations and global network further increase their reach into Japan and Southeast Asia.

The core activity of the CACS is the Minor in Area and Cultural Studies (MACS). This program is the ideal preparation for students whose professional, academic and personal interests converge towards Asia. It gives them the opportunity to participate in two summer schools, one taking place in Lausanne and the other in Bangalore and Shanghai.

The CACS also contributes to the Social and Human Studies (SHS) program, with a set of bachelors level courses. These courses focus on contemporary India, contemporary Japan, the Chinese economy, societies and cultures in Asia, as well as technology and innovation in emerging markets. At the masters level, the course “Going East” prepares students for a Minor in Area and Cultural Studies.

Research fields at the CACS address issues related to contemporary Asia. Projects cover heritage and cultural policies, creative industries, innovation and technology, agricultural and nutritional policies, social movements and sustainable development.

Throughout its teaching and research activities, the CACS mobilizes a network of international partnerships in Asia, Europe and North America.

Past IAGS teaching activities

Academic year 2016-2017

Starting in September 2016 the Minor in Science, Technology and Area Studies (STAS) succeeds MACS. The Minor combines project-based learning with fieldwork in Russia or China. Positioned at the crossroads of science, technology and social sciences, it equips you with the tools and skills to communicate across disciplines and across regions.

Highlights of the previous edition in Russia and China.

Academic year 2015-2016

The Minor in Area and Cultural Studies (MACS) corresponds to the first minor in social sciences at EPFL. Launched in 2009, this programme is an ideal preparation for students whose professional, academic and personal interests converge towards Asia. It gives them the chance to participate in two summer schools, one in Lausanne and another one in Bangalore and Shanghai. It is a programme unlike any other, favouring experiential learning through the combination courses, seminars, tutorials, field visits as well as interactions with scientists, experts, and professionals from leading institutions in India and China.

IAGS organises and coordinates the China Hardware Innovation Camp (CHIC). Launched in 2015 CHIC is an interdisciplinary programme in which Master students from different EPFL sections work in teams with students from ecal and HEC to develop a connected device. The ideation and prototyping are conducted during the Spring semester in Lausanne. It is followed in July by a trip to Hong Kong and Shenzhen for final assembly and small-batch production. Industrial visits and meetings with local entrepreneurs complement the programme in Southern China.

IAGS contributes also to several teaching courses and is involved in master and PhD projects of different EPFL faculties such as ENAC for instance.